Everyone Needs Their Peeps

In one of our village parks, there is a grove of trees that serves as a gathering place for turkey vultures migrating through our area. My husband Mark and I stumbled upon this unexpected sight a few years ago while riding our bikes through town. There must have been forty vultures stoically ensconced on the branches that day – like macabre ornaments strung on a lifeless tree. A little creepy, but stunning!

Recently, when I noticed a kettle of vultures circling the sky, I knew they were back. We hopped on our bikes and hurried to the park. This time, there were almost a hundred vultures, slowly waking and preparing for the day’s search for food. We marveled as they unfolded their wings, holding them open to capture the warm morning sun as it dried the moisture accumulated overnight.

I have been thinking about these magnificent birds since we saw them. Community and camaraderie are so important, regardless of our species. Vultures need one another for companionship, protection from predators,  and to find their mates. Maybe they need a little vulture gossip to keep things spicy.  Perhaps they love to share the joy of flying with their friends. They somehow find each other as they head south for the winter and north for the summer.

As people, we need to feel valued, appreciated, loved –be that by family, friends, co-workers, caregivers. Our souls need that connection with others to thrive. When we are loved, we soar. When we are hurt by others, we shrink. We all need to know that no matter what life throws at us, there is somebody in our corner, cheering us on and helping us through our most difficult days.

Those vultures have figured it out! The rest of us just need to pay attention.

© Maryanne Zawlocki – The International Grandma


Preparing for Baby’s First Visit on a Budget

Recently I received the best news that any International Grandma could hear – my daughter Christine and my granddaughter Kiko are coming to America for a visit during the month of December!  Kiko will be turning 7 months old during this time – a great age.  My brave, wonderful daughter will travel over 6,000 miles with a baby in tow—just to spend time with us.

Suddenly, we needed to purchase baby equipment, so Kiko’s stay is comfortable and safe.

When shopping for baby equipment, we International Grandmas sometimes need to stretch our dollars while keeping safety first.  This is a challenge that is right up my alley.  I like bargains.  I also appreciate quality.  When the two meld together, I’m a happy camper.  The thrill of the hunt is a nice bonus!

I was lucky enough to find an excellent and relatively new $300 car seat at a local garage sale for $25.  It was used by another set of grandparents very sporadically, hadn’t been recalled or in an accident, and had an “expiration date” of 2026.  (Did you know that car seats now have expiration dates?  They have a life span of 6 years.)  Of course, it isn’t always a good idea to buy a used car seat – you really need to be careful.  This is one case that purchasing new might be best.  However, we saw very little risk with this car seat, so we snapped it up and checked it off the baby equipment list.

After several weeks of serious garage sale shopping, I was coming up short looking for a highchair.  Enter Facebook Marketplace.  In a matter of days I found a great highchair for $30.  When I went to pick it up, I met another International Grandma who lived with her son’s family and didn’t speak English.  We worked through the transaction with a lot of smiling and nodding!

Last on the list was a travel crib/playpen.  Once again, Facebook Marketplace came to the rescue.  I found a beautiful, barely-used-by-grandma model for $30.  SCORE!  Now Kiko will have a safe place to sleep and play.

For a total of $85, we found very nice, gently-used baby equipment for incredible prices.  After a good scrubbing and a little laundering, our like-new baby equipment is ready for Kiko!

© Maryanne Zawlocki – The International Grandma